Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Herb Recipes - Pesto Sauce & Grilled Peppers

Week three and I've put my herbs in a sunny window. They still look scrawny. I'm going to plant in bigger pots on the weekend. I've planted:

- Basil
- Parsley
- Tarragon
- Thyme

Thought it would be a good idea to post a recipe or two, in which you can use those wonderful herbs! One of my favourites is Pesto Sauce, using fresh basil and parsley.

Pesto Sauce
Serves 4

3 medium garlic cloves
1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet*
1/2 cup best quality olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Combine garlic, basil, parsley and pine nuts in bowl of food processor or blender. Process, adding oil in a slow, steady stream.

Stop the machine and add cheese, salt and pepper. Turn on machine and process a few seconds to combine. Taste for seasoning, then toss with hot pasta. Serve immediately.

Recommended pasta: 3/4 pound capellini, spaghetti or linguini

* Spread pine nuts in a single layer in an un-oiled heavy skillet. Place on moderate heat and stir occasionally until lightly browned.

Here's another recipe, using peppers and pesto sauce

Grilled Pesto Peppers

* 4 x red peppers
* 2 x large garlic cloves cut into thin slivers
* 4 tbsp olive oil (60ml)
* 3 tbsp pesto (45ml)
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 8 x balls of Boccocini cheese, sliced

1. Cut peppers in half lengthways. Scrape out and discard the cores and seeds. Drizzle olive oil, season with salt and pepper and add a few slivers of garlic into the cavity of each pepper.
2. Preheat the grill to 375°F/200°C or medium high heat
3. Place the peppers on the grill, cavity side up, until charred (approximately 3 minutes)
4. Add a spoonful of pesto into each of the peppers and slices of Boccocini cheese.
5. Continue to cook peppers until cheese is melted (approximately 3 minutes).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Planting seeds indoors

Finally, Spring! After this terribly long Canadian winter, I am itching to be in my garden. But, alas, the ground is still frozen, hard as a rock.

Twice before I’ve tried to start plants from seed indoors. I used small pots filled with potting mix. And twice it has been a let down – the plants died soon after sprouting! Not sure if it’s because I overwatered or did not water enough, or if there was not enough sun. Nevertheless, as I am impatient to plant something, I’ve decided to try again.

This time I am using peat pellets. They are little hard disks of peat moss, wrapped in webbing, that when saturated, expand to about 1 – ½”. The brand I used instructed that one is to put water in the bottom tray, then place the pellet tray on top of the bottom tray, and add 3 seeds to each pellet.

Some of the seeds I used were so miniscule, that I had to put more than three seeds. The instructions also did not advise to separate the webbing on top. This did not seem right to me, so I did some investigating on YouTube and found the below video tutorial. Wish I’d seen it beforehand! Perhaps you'll find it usefull if you decide to start your seeds indoors.

What I do like about the peat pellets is that they stay moist, so you don't need to be constantly be spritzing them with water. I should mention I also read that when using peat pellets, you should not spritz them as it may create fungus (ewwww). I also did that when I first planted, but so far, they are fungus free.

The seeds have now sprouted, but I’m not sure if they are ready for the sun, yet.

Got any tips for growing seeds indoors? Post your comment to this blog.


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